Apr. 21—Still new to her crutches, Manhattan senior Faith Beyer lagged behind as her teammates ran toward the west goal at Bishop Field.
The Indians touch the top cross bar after every home win. No exceptions. Not even for Beyer, who sported a blocky brace to support the right knee she injured during Monday's practice.
Following Tuesday's 9-0 win over Topeka, Beyer's teammates waited for her at the west goal. When she arrived, they lifted her until she could touch the crossbar, too.
"She's part of us. She's part of the team," said Reagan Geisbrecht, who led Manhattan with four goals. "Just because she's injured doesn't mean she shouldn't get to celebrate with us."
The Indians (6-1, 5-0 Centennial League) offered plenty of moments to celebrate during their second straight win. By the time they finished lauding one goal against Topeka, the second wasn't far behind.
Tied 0-0 with 28:30 to play in the first half, Manhattan scored four goals in eight minutes. Reese Snowden smashed the first into the top left corner of Topeka's net with 28:16 left in the half. Geisbrecht scored off a steal 1:38 later, and Delaney Lunsway and Emery Ruliffson finished the barrage with two bombs.
Lunsway scored from 30 yards away at the 22:26 mark. Ruliffson scored a 25-yarder 2:12 later.
"I think once they see one hit the back of the net, their confidence starts to build up," MHS head coach Mike Sanchez said. "Finding that first one gets them on track."
Sanchez's team engineered another scoring spree to start the second half. Leading 5-0, Geisbrecht stole the ball and scored her second goal 56 seconds into the half. Her sister, Grace, assisted Reagan's one-touch finish 75 seconds later, and Snowden scored her ninth goal of the season with 31:46 to play.
They netted all those goals without Beyer, who Sanchez called a "maestro" before the season began. But despite the scoring binge, Geisbrecht said she still could sense Beyer's absence affecting the team.
For one, Beyer sends the best "through balls" (long, leading passes) on the team. Geisbrecht noticed fewer of those against Topeka, which she thinks could explain why the Indians failed to score during the opening 12 minutes. But most importantly, the Indians missed their captain, their teammate, their friend. Geisbrecht and Beyer have played varsity together since they were freshmen.
They were scrimmaging together when Beyer hurt her knee Monday. She caught her foot in the turf while running after a goal kick and fell awkwardly. Sanchez said Beyer visited an orthopedic surgeon Tuesday and will undergo an MRI next week.
The Indians will miss her playmaking during Saturday's matchup with Class 5A's Bishop Carroll (6-2), which has won its league title five of the last 10 years. Sanchez said the Golden Eagles are faster and more aggressive than most teams Manhattan has played this season.
Sanchez trusted senior Sam Grynkiewicz, who's spent most of this season playing a forward position, to play Beyer's midfielder role against Topeka. Grynkiewicz responded by scoring one goal and assisting on another.
No one can replace the Indians' captain, though. Playing without Beyer will hurt as long as it lasts, no matter the opponent.
In the meantime, Geisbrecht said, the Indians will play for her. But they'd much rather play with her.
"We just miss playing with her," Geisbrecht said. "After missing our junior season, all we want to do is play with each other. So it's really hard knowing we might not get to play with her again."